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Celje, Pavilion for the Presentation of Archaeological Remains

New discoveries and conservation-restoration works

In 2013 and 2014, the Municipality of Celje thoroughly updated the utility lines and renovated the public areas in Celje's old town centre that is protected as a monument of local importance. During the preliminary archaeological excavations conducted as a part of the renovation works, a part of a mediaeval cellar and a part of the late Roman building with a hypocaust were discovered at Glavni trg 17, 17a. Based on valorization of the discovered architectural remains, the IPCHS RU Celje developed a study for expansion of the surveys beyond the narrowly defined area, and a proposal for an in-situ presentation.

Emergency conservation-restoration works on the wall frescoes during research

The Municipality of Celje accepted the proposal and thus, two mosaics were discovered in 2014 in the extended area within the building from the classical antiquity period: one black-and-white, sized 25 m², and one black, sized 31 m², complete with the corresponding walls of a representative building, on which contemporary frescoes were still preserved. Extensive stratigraphically and logistically challenging archaeological research was managed by the Celje Regional Museum.

Architectural remains of a mediaeval basement – armoury with cannonballs – were discovered under the green space in front of the building Glavni trg 17, 17a, during the reconstruction of Glavni trg.

Aware of the problem of long-term maintenance, preservation, and protection of the monument that is not in its primary function, the IPCHS RU Celje proposed to protect the mosaics and the appertaining remains within the protected structure, which would at the same time afford an opportunity for musealization of the remains. The requirement was for the new structure to be functionally subordinate to the archaeological finds, and designed in a way that allows controlling the optimum climate conditions (especially temperature and humidity) with the lowest possible cost.

Detail of discovered wall frescoes that were brittle and considerably damaged due to subsidence of soil and roots.

For urgent protection of the archaeological remains, the Ministry of Culture contributed from its emergency fund an amount of 33,067.52 EUR for primary conservation-restoration of the mosaics and frescoes. Primary conservation, monitoring of condition during the construction of the presentation structure/building, and restoration of all archaeological remains were conducted by the experts from the IPCHS Conservation and Restoration Centre and the Celje Regional Museum. All restoration procedures sought to preserve the original substance and to render the archaeological remains as intelligible as possible; this included numerous innovative restoration procedures.

Interior of the Pavilion Photo: Miran Kambič

Project of the Pavilion

Before: View of the green space in front of the building Glavni trg 17, 17a

The building was planned on a part of the funnel-shaped main square (Glavni trg), on a site at which a gap in an otherwise continuous row of buildings was left after a World War II bombing raid. According to the building plan for Celje's old town centre, a building within the dimensions of the primary architectural mass was to be constructed at the site. With the new circumstances, however, the cultural protection starting points dictated a design of a modern interpolation that highlights the new contents in the space/building, while also observing and honouring the characteristics of the historical square. Building design was commissioned from Korpnik produkcija d.o.o. They delineated the building in terms of program into two units: the entrance pavilion performing the function of an exhibition space, providing protection (conservation) and in situ presentation of the archaeological remains including an Ancient Roman mosaic, and leading to the tourist information centre and a museum space within the existing building.

Interior of the Pavilion Photo: Miran Kambič

A walk through the interior allows observation of the archaeological remains from various angles and to the greatest possible extent, owing to the well-thought-out placement of connecting elevated footbridges/passageways. The glass building envelope delimits the exhibition area for the archaeological remains and exposes it to view from the street, while at the same time closing the introverted atrium space in its background. The pavilion was constructed by the company Markomark Nival d.o.o. Building construction was not allowed to interfere with the archaeological remains. Therefore, the foundations or support piles (pile foundations) were only planned in the spots where the remains had already been damaged or destroyed, and they were installed with the drilling technique to minimize the negative effect of vibrations on the archaeological remains. Particular attention was also paid to creation and maintenance of suitable climate conditions in the exhibition facility.

Construction of the support structure for the presentation pavilion.

The Municipality of Celje invested EUR 623,594.68 of own funds into the entire project of the Pavilion for the Presentation of Archaeological Remains, and prepared a festive opening ceremony in September 2016. The presentation pavilion, leading to the Tourist Information Centre Celje, first and foremost protects the archaeological remains (walls, frescoes, mosaics, and other architectural components), while functioning as an archaeological exhibition area presenting the exhibition titled "Celeia – a Mosaic of the Past" that is further upgraded by the restored original mosaic exhibited in the basement space. All project team members contributed active, professional, responsible, competent, and synergistic efforts to create a successful story with a modern structure that provides permanent protection of exceptional archaeological heritage, enriches the cultural contents of the town centre, and promotes the awareness among both local residents and tourists about our past, which is a rare case not only in Slovenia but also in Europe.

Frontage of the Pavilion for Presentation of Archaeological Remains Photo: Miran Kambič


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